Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms moderate the relation between childhood sexual abuse and disordered eating in a community sample

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Objective: Previous work has found clear associations between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and disordered eating in adulthood. However, further research is needed to clarify factors that may influence this relationship. The current study advanced existing research by examining the moderating influence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity in the association between CSA and disordered eating. Method: Data were collected from 463 individuals with a history of sexual assault or other unwanted sexual experience(s) (Mage = 34.71, 54.9% women, 77.5% white) who were recruited from MTurk. Results: Results indicated significant positive relations among CSA, PTSD symptom severity, and disordered eating. CSA was found to be associated with disordered eating at high, but not low, levels of PTSD symptom severity. Discussion: This study highlights the importance of assessing disordered eating and PTSD symptoms in individuals who report a history of CSA. Clinicians aiming to reduce their patients' symptoms of disordered eating may benefit from considering the potential role of PTSD symptom severity as a barrier to achieving treatment gains.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders